Author's Note

April Reading Challenge: Spring Cleaning My TBR

This might seem a little bit strange, but my TBR challenge for April is to read books that I’m pretty sure I’m not going to enjoy that much. Like most people, when the sunshine returns I get the itch to tidy up, so it seems like a good time to filter through my bookshelves and try to leave only the books I really do love – plus, with my birthday at the end of the month, it’s always a good idea to make some space in case I get any new books!

I’ve chosen twelve books that I’ve either been putting off reading because my tastes have changed, or I suspect I’ll have fun with but not want to reread. Some might surprise me and make the cut, but there might also be a few DNFs if I really don’t click with them. Please don’t be angry with me if you spot a favourite here: everyone’s tastes are personal and this list is not meant to be things I think are bad books in themselves, just things I’m no longer sure I’ll love personally!

Gideon The Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

Yeah, let’s start with a bang and get the worst of the hate over with… I know. This book is everyone’s favourite. I was hyped too – I even bought the special edition with the black sprayed edges! But the more I hear about it, the more I find myself thinking hmm. The meme content feels like it’s going to annoy me, and I don’t like how everyone says it’s intensely confusing in the world-building, so I’ve just been sliding it down the list. I think I’m just going to have to jump in and see for myself, but I need a push.

The Dark Vault – VE Schwab

Okay, this is technically two books bound up together, The Archived and The Unbound. As you may have seen in my review of Gallant, I can be really so-so on VE Schwab’s YA writing – I bounced off This Savage Song quite hard, too. The premise of this one sounds more up my street – love a creepy magical library! – so who knows…

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta

This book has been sitting on my Kindle for the longest time, so when I spotted someone selling a secondhand copy a few months ago I thought having a physical copy might push it up my list. It’s huge though, a real chonk, so I’ve still been putting it off. It would be good to give it a try and decide if it’s staying or not, because between it and the sequel they take up a lot of space!

Fearsome Dreamer – Laure Eve

I picked this up after really enjoying the author’s Twilight-esque YA contemporary fantasy The Graces – but then a few years later I reread The Graces and decided to unhaul it, so I fear this might be a similar case where my tastes have changed. It looks pretty different in subject and setting, though, so it might be more of a hit!

A Winter’s Promise – Christelle Dabos

I bought this book knowing very little about it other than that it was translated from French and had a beautiful cover. I’ve since seen reviews saying that it’s weirdly misogynistic, so I’m braced for disappointment.

Ink, Iron and Glass – Gwendolyn Clare

I couldn’t remember a single thing about this book until I looked up the blurb just now! I can see why I thought I’d like it, since it has magical writing and fun historical inspiration, but it does sounds as thought it might be a little too cookie-cutter YA for my current taste.

Entwined – Heather Dixon

I haven’t really heard much about this YA retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses – it’s one of my favourite fairy tales but I think this particular version just got a bit lost in the huge flood of YA retellings. I mean, just look at that classic 2011 cover! However, I really loved the author’s The Enchanted Sonata so there’s a definite possibility this might swerve being the kind of tropey retelling I’m bored with.

House of Salt and Sorrows – Erin A Craig

This is actually a second Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! But where Entwined is on this list because I think it might be too light, this is here because I think the horror vibes might be too much for me, and I’ve been putting it off because there’s never a right time to scare myself! I’m hoping that having it on the list will force me to pick it off instead of just thinking about it.

A Deal with the Elf King – Elise Kova

I’ve been putting this book off for a bit of a strange reason, and that’s that it’s too hyped. I’ve enjoyed books from Elise Kova before, but her fanbase, and the current boom of this particular subgenre of fae fantasy romance, have made me feel a bit like this isn’t going to be for me. I think this is very much one where I won’t be able to tell until I open the book!

A Darkness of Dragons – SA Patrick

I really don’t know what it is about this book, but I just keep picking it up and putting it down after a couple of pages! It sounds like it’s exactly my cup of tea – middle grade with dragons! – but I think I need to make a concerted effort to give it a little longer and see if it clicks.

The Wild Folk – Sylvia V Linsteadt

Another middle grade book that I’ve just never seemed to be in the mood to pick up. It’s a pretty chunky one for the age range so maybe it just seems a little daunting? I’ve seen mixed reviews about how engaging the environmental allegory is, which can be something that irritates me if it’s too preachy.

Grounded – Megan Morrison

This is not so much a book that I think will disappoint me as one that I deliberately bought to read once. I love a light-hearted, snarky take on a classic fairy tale (this one is Rapunzel, obviously!) but they can be hit and miss in quality for me because I find it’s tricky to get the balance of humour and love right. I want a send-up that feels like it still likes the original story! So if this one works, great, but if not, it was only a secondhand copy and I’ll be happy to pass it on.

So, that’s the plan – twelve books given one last chance to impress me! I’ll check in in two weeks with mini-reviews of those I’ve tackled, and again at the end of the month. Wish me luck!

18 thoughts on “April Reading Challenge: Spring Cleaning My TBR

  1. FWIW, I spent the first chapter or two of GIDEON thinking it wasn’t my cup of tea (too dark, too grim) – but then the two main characters fly off to a haunted mansion in space and it suddenly becomes awesome! Really funny and exciting and weirdly romantic (I mean, romantic in a VERY unlikely way), too. So if you do give it a try, it might be worth giving it that little bit of extra time to catch your interest! It ended up being one of my favorite books of the year it was published, and I really hadn’t thought that it would.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh, that’s really good to know, thanks! I usually give books at least 100 pages (unless there’s something really glaring like bad grammar or bigotry!) before I bow out, because it never feels fair to judge on set-up scenes that have an inherently harder load to bear – but I definitely needed to hear that it isn’t grim all the way through! One of my favourites, Soulkeeper, is like that too – I hand it to people saying ‘just skim the really macho first 100 pages, the rest of the book is nothing like that’ 😂


  2. A Winter’s Promise is quite misogynistic. I read it a good few years ago thinking I would absolutely love the portal fantasy-esque nature about it but the way the main character Ophelia is treated made me DNF it. I was not hear for it at all. I also disliked Ink Iron and Glass when I read that a couple of years ago. The concept was great but I found the execution to be rather messy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read around 180 pages of Gideon last year then put it down. It’s strange, as I was reading it I was struggling to stay engaged but when I think back on it I feel like I actually quite liked it. Every so often I think about picking it up again but I’d have to start over because its been so long and I don’t know if it’ll be worth it or not. I was so-so on Gallant. The only YA book I’ve loved from Schwab was Our Dark Duet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve had a lot of these on my TBR for a long time. I’ve had Finnikin (and the 2 after it) since they came out. All 4 of the Mirror Visitor quartet. House of Salt and Sorrow came in a book box, I think. I think 4 Elise Kova books. And I have so many unread Schwab books… I really need to start prioritising my backlist.

    Liked by 1 person

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